Suddenly, everyone, including health and nutritional experts, are talking about seaweed for its amazing nutrient profile, skin rejuvenation and weight loss benefits. You’ve probably eaten seaweed wrapped around sushi.
Realistically speaking, very few of us would consider picking up a bag of the not-so-sexy underwater plant at the local grocery. But, hopefully after reading this article you are going to make an effort to replace spinach with seaweed. Okay, wait, spinach is also very nutritious so if you eat spinach two times a week, reduce this number to two and eat seaweed for the remaining two days.
Seaweed is amongst the most nutrient dense plant on earth, and since it has access to all the nutrients in the sea, it is an extremely rich source of minerals. It is endowed with a host of antioxidants, calcium, iodine and a broad spectrum of vitamins, but this doesn’t even begin to scratch the slippery surface of this miracle food.
- Does seaweed qualify as a super food?
In a nutshell, YES!
Edible seaweed is a member of the algae family and comes in three varieties; brown, green and red. The brown variety is the most commonly eaten with kelp and wakame being very popular in Asian restaurants. This is followed by the red variety which includes nori, used by most sushi chefs. The green variety is slowly making its way up with most people today using it in place of dark green leafy greens such as kale and spinach.
Seaweed is very rich in vitamins A and C and it’s also a very good source of calcium, particularly the red variety, making it one of the reasons certain red seaweed supplements are combined with treatments for osteoarthritis.
Back to our question on whether seaweed qualifies as a super food, though it indeed qualifies, let’s not kid ourselves, only one tablespoon per serving is not going to realistically provide you with its rich nutritional content.
Seaweed’s superpower lies in its extraordinary composition of a nutrient missing in nearly all other foods – iodine. Adequate consumption of iodine is critically vital to maintaining a healthy thyroid, the gland responsible for regulating your hormones. By regularly consuming seaweed, you will no longer have to consume iodized salt.
Let’s get into a bit of history. Salt manufacturers started adding iodine in salt in the 1920’s and in 1993; the World Health Organization undertook a worldwide salt iodization program that saw a significant reduction in the symptoms of severe iodine deficiency.
Unfortunately, today our environment is laden with iodine-blocking chemicals; manufacturers of processed food are using iodine-free salts and the ‘healthy folk’ have developed ‘salt phobia’ as a measure to protect themselves from hypertension and other salt related diseases. We are slowly slipping back to mild iodine deficiencies.
The probe with mild iodine deficiency is that it is very difficult to diagnose as it presents itself as unexplainable fatigue, irritability, depression, difficulty losing weight and a susceptibility to common illnesses. This is where our super food comes in. It contains approximately 50 times the recommended daily intake of iodine.
The benefits of seaweed don’t stop at nutrition. They extend far beyond into helping regulate the level of estrogen and estradiol. These two hormones are responsible for the proper development and functioning of sexual organs and potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer. It is actually suggesting that the high consumption rate of seaweed in Japan is probably behind the low incidence of disease.
Seaweed has also been shown to help improve fertility issues and ladies,…drum rolls…wait for it…control PMS! Additionally, seaweed reduces inflammation, which is usually behind asthma, arthritis, diabetes, celiac disease, obesity and depression.
Okay, now that you know, what’s your action plan?
Before you go all out and eat seaweed for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the aim of getting all its benefits, this super food can cause health issues when taken in excess. 10 grams of dulse, a type of the red seaweed variety has about 34 times the amount of potassium in a banana. A high consumption of dulse can cause heart palpitations among individual suffering from kidney issues.
As with any other food, moderation is key. Consumption of seaweed 3 to 4 times a week is extremely beneficial not only from a nutritional standpoint but also from a beauty standpoint.
Lastly, beware of the source of your seaweed. If it comes from contaminated water, you are going to feed your body with toxic matter. You therefore have to buy from a reliable brand to be on the safe side.
We are in agreement that seaweed is super nutritious, but try not to eat a whole ocean’s worth!